Location

Seychelles is an archipelago consisting of 115 of the most picturesque islands in the world, located about a thousand miles off the eastern side of Africa (just to the south of the equator). Lying in the coastal area of the Indian Ocean, along the African continent, Seychelles is favorably positioned between the prime manufacturing and trade channels of Africa, Asia and Europe. This allows it to provide an exceptional platform for foreign investment into these important global areas of commerce. Furthermore, Seychelles does not experience hurricanes like many other offshore jurisdictions, such as Mauritius and all of the Caribbean nations.

Political Structure

Seychelles is comprised of a multiparty political system, having an executive President as head of state and government. The Cabinet of 13 ministers, which also includes the VicePresident, is under the control of the President.

Legislative authority is vested in a National Assembly. This lawmaking body contains 32 members, 26 of whom are
chosen straight in constituencies, with the balance on a comparative basis, as per the results of the National Assembly elections.

Seychelles holds memberships in the United Nations, the Commonwealth, the African Union, and La Francophonie.
There are embassies of Seychelles in Paris, Brussels, New York, New Delhi, Pretoria, Beijing, and London, as well as many honorary consulates throughout the world.

Economy and Infrastructure

During the era of 1970’s and 80’s, Seychelles was a single party socialist country. Designed to alleviate the economy and lessen its vulnerability to external shocks, commercial activity was centralized in the hands of around 30 parastatal organizations (corporations having a majority of their shares held by the Government).

The country has evolved away from centralized planning to an open market economy, with increasing private
investments. As part of the effort to strengthen this capitalist system, the country’s infrastructure, including health and education, has been revamped to create a strong foundation for future economic growth. Since 2006, the government has continued to privatize governmentheld assets, ranging from production activities to monetary services.

In 1997, Seychelles became part of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA). In support of
COMESA’s strategic goals, Seychelles focuses on increasing national production to compete globally, addressing
supplyside limitations related to infrastructure, as well as maintaining peace and security, among others. Combined, the COMESA member countries have a population of more than 389 million, producing annual import and annual export totals of approximately one US billion, respectively.

In May of 2009, Seychelles joined the COMESA Free Trade Area (FTA). Seychelles is wellpositioned
to benefit from several key initiatives, such as:

  • COMESA Customs Union
  • COMESA Common Investment Area
  • Common Market

Since gaining independence in 1976, per capita output in Seychelles has grown about sevenfold,
compared to the old nearsubsistence level. Primarily, this increase was spawned by the tourism industry, which employs about 30% of the labour force (agriculture today only employs around 3% of the Seychellois labour force).
Starting in 2008, shortly after the world economic crisis, the government of Seychelles made the control of the budget deficit a priority, especially by curbing social welfare costs and expanding the privatization of national enterprises.

The Seychelles administration has an extensive hand in economic life. The government owns public companies involved
in the distribution of petroleumbased products, banking, importation of essential products, telecommunications and many more. Since 2010, the Index of Economic Freedom has been increasing each year (a measure of the degree of limited government, rule of law, regulatory efficiency, market openness as well as other factors).

In recent years, Seychelles has promoted foreign investment to modernize hotels and other services. Most recently, the government established the Seychelles International Business Authority (SIBA) to encourage the growth of the offshore financial sector (through offshore company formation and foreign investment) and passed several new regulations (such as the International Corporate Service Providers Act, the International Business Companies Act, theSecurities Act, the Mutual Funds and Hedge Fund Act, amongst others).

Population, Language and Culture Seychelles population is 87,785, as per 2012 census. Its population makes it the second smallest state of Africa. Seychelles people belong to diverse ethnic groups such as Asian, African and European. The combinations of these groups are called Creole. Seychelles people speak different languages because of their diverse religious backgrounds. The state has three authorized languages:

  • English
  • French
  • Creole

Seychelles culture is a colorful tapestry, a fusion culture. Most of the people in Seychelles belong to diverse religions and thus have different lifestyles and customs. The art, food and music is lively and festive.

Exchange Control

The Seychellois rupee (SR) is the national currency of Seychelles. In 2008, the SR was allowed to float freely, rather than be tied to a set of international currencies, in the hopes of attracting an increasing number of foreign investments to the Seychelles economy.

In 2001, the latest foreign exchange laws were announced by the Seychellois government. The Foreign Earnings
Regulation Act and the Exchange Control Act were amended to reject unlawful foreign exchange activities and to make
sure that all foreign exchange activities and transactions were certified and, to a certain extent, supervised by the Central Bank of Seychelles.

The major purpose of the Foreign Earnings Regulation Division is to make sure that all foreign exchange coming into
country legally goes through the banking system and allotment of the foreign exchange is moderately distributed by the commercial banks as per the directives issued to these banks.
Visitors in Seychelles make payments in foreign currencies for hiring of boats, cars, lodging, travel agents, tour operator services, inter island services, visiting state parks and nature reserves. In most places, credit cards can also be used. It is not mandatory for tourists to switch currency when entering the state. In fact, they can exchange only little amounts for their secondary expenses outside tourist places and hotels.

Type of Law

Seychelles has a mixedjurisdiction system of law that makes it quite unique. The civil law is directed by a Civil Code, which was derived from the French Napoleonic Code. There is no British common law aspects in Seychellois civil law. In criminal law, however, there are significant similarities to British criminal law. Procedural law is mainly Britishbased.

British courtroom procedures also share great likeness to those of Seychelles procedural law.
Laws are passed primarily through legislation. The Seychelles legislative division is headed up by the National
Assembly. It holds the power to develop, alter and revoke all laws except for some sections of the Constitution of the Republic of Seychelles. This Constitution is the ultimate law of the state; therefore, particular chapters, such as ones that address individuals’ constitutional rights, can be revised only through a referendum.
The Seychellois Civil Code lays out the principles and laws relevant to handling civil disputes. Matters not explicitly addressed through legislation may be explained or proposed through case law developments, but to date no branches of the law have been formed purely using case law, as in the British common law system.

Principal Corporate Legislation

The International Business Companies Act 1994 governs the operations of offshore companies. Seychelles has
continually improved this original document to serve the needs of offshore corporate investors, through more than ten amendments in the past 20 years.

Seychelles recently passed three new very important pieces of legislation: the Mutual Fund Act 2008, Securities Act
2007 and Insurance Act 2008. All build upon excellent existing products and reflect “best practices” born from the benefit of insight into other similar products in competing jurisdictions and leading international experts who assisted in crafting the legislation.